As Rohit Sharma went about hitting bowlers to all parts of the park in Mohali, a Sri Lanka fan back home was very happy for the opener’s achievement, a record third double hundred in ODIs. For the island nation’s top cricket fan Mohamed Nilam, Rohit had just a week back emerged as the ultimate hero when the India opener helped him return home to tend his ailing father A A Farook who needed a surgery for throat cancer. Nilam was supposed to stay until the last T20I on December 26 but the news of his father’s illness cut his trip short.
Nilam, who had earlier made travel arrangements according to the fixtures, didn’t have the means to book the return ticket before Sudhir Kumar, Sachin Tendulkar’s iconic fan and a regular member in the stands every time India plays, asked Rohit for help. All this happened during the third and final Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla and Rohit helped Nilam with the ticket to Colombo.
“I’m very thankful to Rohit Sharma for his help. He is a very nice man and has a good heart. I was very happy when he scored 208 in the second match,” Nilam told indianexpress.com from Sri Lanka.
Not just Rohit, even India captain Virat Kohli, who was in Italy for his wedding ceremonies with Anushka Sharma, texted Nilam and checked if he needed any help for treatment. “Virat also messaged me and asked about my father’s health. He said ‘if you need any help, tell me’,” said Nilam.
Nilam has a lot of memories with the Indian cricketers when they tour the Island and also when he accompanies the Sri Lankan team during away tours. At the Delhi Test, he stood near the practice nets and cheered the hosts as they applied final touches before the last rubber in the three-Test series. Every time an Indian player would leave, he would greet them with a unique chant and ask them for a picture.
Nilam’s is a special bond with the players and it has only grown with every match he has attended. From the Champions Trophy in England to the 2011 World Cup final at Wankhede and the Asia Cup fixtures, Nilam has cheered from the stands with his unique hat. How does it feel to receive so much love from the Indian cricket team? “Like they love me, I love them too,” came a quick text before a picture of Rohit Sharma presenting Nilam with his ODI jersey.